Are Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel Heading Towards A Potential Divorce?

Tabloids continue to raise the question of whether Justin Timberlake is cheating on his wife, Jessica Biel. As such, the question of a potential divorce also raises its ugly head once again in the celebrity world. The general public may be under the misunderstanding that divorce is fault-based, and such misunderstanding is generally due to media and movies produced in the United States.

In Ontario, divorce is governed by the Divorce Act and provides only one ground for divorce in Canada - "marriage breakdown". Marriage breakdown can be proven in one of two manners:

  1. the parties have lived separate and apart for one year (i.e. no-fault divorce); or
  2. the other spouse is guilty of adultery or cruelty.

Thus, although evidence of adultery or cruelty provides a means to obtain a divorce, almost all divorces proceed by means of "living separate and apart". The rationale is that a spouse must prove adultery or cruelty before a judge. This means that a trial would have to occur, and, given the current backlog of cases, such trial may not be heard for one year. As such, the more viable and cost effective option is to obtain a divorce on the grounds of living separate and apart for one year.

Although spouses may be greatly angered by adultery, and this may lead them to seek a divorce, no such "initiating" event is required. This means that, in Ontario, Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel may divorce one another, regardless of whether he cheated on her during their relationship. If such divorce were to occur, Jessica would be entitled to an equalization of net family property as provided for in Part I of Ontario's Family Law Act.

To figure out the equalization payment that would be owed from one spouse to the other, the net family property (NFP) of each spouse would have to be calculated. In simple terms, the calculation is as follows:

NFP = Value of all assets on separation other than excluded property minus (Current liabilities + Net worth at date of marriage other than Matrimonial Home)

Once the NFP has been calculated for each spouse, the equalization payment would be equal to one-half the difference between the two NFPs. Given Justin's continuous production of music and appearances in film, one may assume that his net worth has increased more than Jessica's over the duration of the marriage. Consequently, Justin would more than likely owe Jessica a handsome equalization payment if they were to become divorced and Jessica may be telling him to "Cry Me a River". If the tabloids have any truth to them, Justin is more than gambling with his relationship, but he is gambling with his fortune.

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